Winnipeg Fire Fighters Museum – Web Design Project
The Winnipeg Fire Museum is a volunteer-run organization intended to preserve the history of firefighting in Winnipeg. The dedicated volunteers are retired firemen, and take great pride in their museum. They gladly educate visitors, upkeep a detailed archive, and share their extensive knowledge of apparatus. The site was a redesign, with the main purpose of making the museum more well-known and popular for visitors. No information was removed, the archive is far too impressive to hide from visitors. However, it was rearranged and categorized for easier navigation for anyone who wants to see it. The site was developed in a dark theme, with black-and-white photos reminiscent of a museum Lightbox exhibit. Take a look down below to see how it was done, and to visit the site.
The Winnipeg Fire Museum needed a new site. The old one was far too complex to navigate. It was a real challenge, because the museum archive is so large and contains vast numbers of various artifacts. However, the archive could not be removed from the site and therefore this challenge became a focus of the new design. I decided to make the site black, grey, and red. The history of firefighting was not all glamorous heroism. It was hard, brutal work, heroic for sure, but gruelling as well. To keep the site sombre and respectful a muted colour palette was chosen. The black background was a callback to physical museums, which often use a spotlight for the artifacts while keeping the rest of the museum in the dark.
To fully design the site, I had to look at lots of museum website designs, specifically other firefighting museums, and other museums in Manitoba. Across the board, most featured black-and-white imagery, and a simple sophisticated layout.
Of course for such a community-run museum I had to meet the volunteers. I headed over to the museum and was greeted by a group of polite and funny retired firefighters. They took the time to show me around the museum, show off the restored vintage firetrucks, and even tell me a few anecdotes passed down in the fire department. They also provided valuable resources and personal feedback about the direction and content of the site. Thanks to their help I was able to refine the design and keep it respectful to those who have served in the fire department.
The first step in designing this site was arranging the vast amount of information into organized pages. I wrote out everything that needed to be on the site and grouped into potential pages. Then the pages were connected into a sitemap. Once that was done, I moved on to figuring out the general layout of the site and wireframing the pages. The colour palette was already figured out, so I sourced all necessary photography from the site or images taken by me at the museum. I chose a clean but sophisticated serif typeface for the headlines and a modern sans-serif for the main text, to reference both the historic roots and the modern day museum.
I decided to separate the archive page into various sections to ease the navigation process. The information naturally fell into a few categories: historical records, apparatus, fallen firemen, and the current retired firemen organization. So, those seemed like the logical way to organize the archives. Although I did not develop the rest of the navigation, it would include time filters for the historical sections, and indexed entries for easy searching.
The finished site looks sleek and sophisticated, historic yet modern, and definitely showcases the vast collection of artifacts the museum has to offer. Take a look at the live demo and please note that not every page has been developed. Here’s Winnipeg Fire Museum!